Italians place a heavy emphasis on the word arrivederci. ‘Vedere’ means to see and essentially the word signifies ‘until we see each other again’. It is not goodbye, it is a placeholder for an eventual reunion. I believe that today I only said arrivederci to Italia. I will be back someday.
Christina is always full of wisdom, she has been Olivia and my lifeline to sanity at various moments throughout the semester. She said two very sage things during our return to Roma.
“Everything still feels fresh and new, Rome is still exciting. I’m so happy that this feeling hasn’t gone away.”
“It’s best to go when you are happy, rather than waiting until you are sick of a place and ready to go home”.
I could not agree more with both statements. Arriving back in Rome still got my heart a flutter, just as it had on day one. It was a strange sensation being back in a place after so much time and after so much had occurred, but I still felt like we were just beginning our journey and had only just arrived. I am so glad that our trip came full circle. My trio reunited and we were happy as ever to have a few extra days in Italia before our journey home for the holidays. Most of our group headed out on Sunday and instead we trekked with an unbelievable amount of luggage down to Rome. We had already done the major sightseeing, so we had time to just wander, soak up some final times in one of the most beautiful cities on earth, and enjoy the end of our semester abroad, together.
I could not have asked for better friends to traverse Europe with. Christina and Olivia were the perfect balance with my uptight type-A constantly with a map personality in contrast to their jovial lightheartedness in times of trouble. We were such a unit and did and saw so much together. We had a ball, laughing more than anything else. They are two of the funniest people I have ever met and I am so happy that I have grown to know them on such a new level over the course of this semester. I also LOVE that my Appa pal and one of my RLD girls are now the best of friends.
27 people is not a large group. 21 girls, 6 boys, taking on Italia. I could not have predicted a better bunch. Some of the biggest personalities on the face on the earth, we were the American circus through and through. While we may not have fully assimilated to Italy, we took Parma by the reins and made the absolute most of it, with people staring at us every step of the way. We definitely embodied our early saying “too much fun, no such thing”. I was beyond lucky to be placed in the Villa. It completely shaped my experience in Parma. The 9 of us provided each other with constant entertainment. I loved being able to become close with each and everyone of them. You know you are close when the mockery extends beyond my cackling laugh and my love for DC and Bellamy Street, but to the way I brush my teeth. This group was no holds barred and I loved every second of it.
I have approximately 2,500 photos from this semester. The number of memories I have accumulated throughout the journey is countless. My travels took me to 8 different countries on 12 planes and probably close to 100 trains. I cannot even begin to recount all of the highlights but here are a few of my favorite parts.
I saw every major landmark of Rome in less than 48 hours.
I got to experience Europe with some of my best friends who were also abroad.
I swam and hiked in Cinque Terre.
I took class at Florence’s most incredible landmarks.
I lived in an adorable small Italian city.
I mountain biked through vineyards of northern Italy.
I lifechatted on the steps of Lourve.
I developed a new family, the Villa family.
I went to the Italian opera.
I went on a gondola ride with my best friend.
I explored Italy with my family.
I spent my 20th birthday at Lake Como and in Switzerland.
I hiked in the Swiss and Italian Alps.
I learned how to cook and I ate and ate and ate.
I stayed out all night in Madrid.
I celebrated Thanksgiving in Amsterdam.
I ice skated in Christmas markets in Brussels.
I had a fabulous family weekend in Dublin.
I had the time of my life with people I absolutely adore.
I don’t know where I would have been without my support system at home. My parents and sisters were phenomenal throughout the entire experience. I am so appreciative for them allowing me to embark on this adventure. It was not inexpensive, but I think the experiences were worth every penny. My sister’s had a lot going on this semester with college applications and I hope that I was as helpful as possible from thousands of miles away. I also can’t imagine getting through my bouts of homesickness without my family and friends back at BC, they were incredible and I cannot wait to be reunited with everyone so soon.
If three and a half months ago someone was to tell me the places I would go, the things I would see and what I would do during my semester abroad, I would tell them they were crazy. Unreal is the word that consistently comes to my mind. I’ve changed. I’ve grown up. It was inevitable. Finally being away from home. Finally being completely independent. Confident and self-assured are the words I would use to describe myself. I focused on me this semester, for better and for worse, and I am so glad I took advantage of every opportunity and adventure possible.
I am coming back with a nearly empty bank account and a completely out of shape body, but I am probably as happy as I have ever been in my entire life. I would not change any of it for the world. I refuse to have any regrets from this semester, maybe mistakes were made, but there is no use dwelling on them, especially with the thousand times more amazing and incredible things that happened. I am ready to take on Boston College. Until I got on this plane, I really didn’t think I was ready to go home. But I am ready, I am ready to take on next semester at full speed. I am so happy to have such a wonderful group of friends that will be with me every step of the way. It is going to be an adjustment, it will not be easy, I’m going to miss Italy, Parma, the Villa and Liana, as she tackles semester two in Parma. But I’m excited. I have an immense fear of change and I ALWAYS hate things at the beginning. Luckily my mom is always there to remind me of this tendency and she is always right, “everything happens for a reason”. Everything that happened in the past three months was for a reason. I have developed so much for the better. I am a confident, well-traveled 20 year old and I think that I can aptly adapt to any situation you throw at me after the various curveballs of the semester between travel plans, social interactions and the change of a lifelong Bostonian taking on the joys and challenges of living in Europe.
Arrivederci Italia, grazie mille per tutto. The legend of the Trevi Fountain is that after throwing a coin in you are bound to return to Roma. It worked once, let’s hope it works the second time around. I’m missing Italy already.